Nortel Networks has spurned its resellers and decided to introduce its Enterprise Edge converged voice and data product to the UK through British Telecom.
The product, which is aimed at small and medium sized businesses, had been promoted heavily at the vendor's Barracuda reseller conferences, but Nortel resellers wanting to enter the convergence market must now turn to other vendors.
John Chapman, business development director at reseller Westcon, said he was told of the decision last week. "We thought we'd be able to get it but have now been categorically told we won't," he said.
Jonathan Hallet, Nortel sales specialist at Netwise Systems, said: "It's ridiculous - it's a top product and just what data resellers need as a lead into the voice market."
Neil Tilley, Nortel presales manager at EAE Infosystems, said Nortel presented the product to resellers as recently as last month and didn't tell them not to sell it.
Chapman said the reason he was given was that BT has exclusive distribution rights to Nortel's voice products, and the Enterprise Edge contains technology from the Norstar PBX.
Dave Allen, enterprise solutions marketing director at Nortel, said the deal with BT is not exclusive. "The current situation is that BT is the distributor for the product in the UK," he said. BT confirmed that Nortel is free to sell its products as it likes. "There is no contractual issue," said a representative of the company.
Allen responded to suggestions that Nortel is driving its resellers into the arms of its competitors by saying: "At the moment we're in a growth market. Right now we are working with BT, who knows where we'll focus in nine months' time." Nortel will work with other partners, but it is too soon to say which ones, he added.
Steve Brazier, director at analysts Canalys.com, said converged voice and data technology is "a strong channel product, one of the best pieces of news the channel has had in a long time".
Similar products, like Lucent's Network Alchemy and 3Com's NBX, are being sold by networking resellers. "If you are targeting businesses with up to 250 users you absolutely must use the channel. And if the product requires data skills, then BT is not the right company to sell it," said Brazier.
But Nortel's Allen disagreed. "I think BT stands alone - what other company has 325,000 SME customers to sell to?" he said.
Westcon's Chapman said he believed Nortel wants to see the product sold through its data channel. Sources have suggested that Computacenter may be appointed to distribute the product in the UK, others have said resellers will be able to import it.
First appeared in Computer Reseller News
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